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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Most of the modern breeds of dogs we know are only a couple hundred years old, but the concept of selective dog breeding is very old.

    Before I found this video, I wasn't aware that ancient societies had a wide variety of specific dog breeds.

    It's also interesting that world travelers also commented on different breeds of dogs in foreign lands.


    So, what would dog breeds look like in a typical Tolkien inspired D&D world?

    Would gnomes and halflings breed smaller dogs or would they like to have huge dogs? What kind of dogs would dwarves keep? What kind of dogs would orcs keep?

    Would dogs be able to bred to do anything fantasy like be trained to "bark if you smell magic"

    I think distinctive fantasy dogs would add flavor to various locations.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Why would I be sleeping at 3am when I can be tearing up over Roman epitaphs for their dogs?

    Promise I'll say something more substantive at some point.

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Halfling riding dogs are already a thing, Belkar's disappointment notwithstanding...

    It just occurred to me that cats would be more likely than dogs to innately detect magic.
    Last edited by brian 333; 2020-11-21 at 07:00 AM.

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Halfling riding dogs are already a thing, Belkar's disappointment notwithstanding...

    It just occurred to me that cats would be more likely than dogs to innately detect magic.
    The Oprichinik, bodyguards/inquisitors of Ivan the Terrible, used to believe that dogs could smell witches and traitors and attached severed dog or wolf heads on their saddles.

    Dogs barking at the supernatural is also a classic trope.


    Generally speaking a dogs appearance is going to depend on it's job, so dogs that do similar jobs look similar across different cultures. The desired mental properties for a job are likewise similar no matter where you are.

    Halflings in the LotR setting or one inspired by it would probably have dog breeds similar to those of rural England irl. A mix of ratters, companion dogs, herding dogs and hunting hounds, both for retrieving game and flushing it out. Around the borderlands guard dog breeds would be more common as well, to keep watch for strangers and wild animals at night. Ratters and companion dogs tend to be very small, hunting dogs range in size and guard dogs tend towards being largish.

    Dwarves would probably keep ratters and companion dogs, but since they tend to be highly urbanised in most depictions they would probably not keep many hunting dogs or guard dogs. Obviously dwarves who roam, for patrols or hunting would need dogs suited to the task. Likely favoring something akin to real life mountain dog breeds. Herding dogs would likely be in use to protect goats and sheep, which are both good livestock for hills and mountains.

    Orcs as commonly depicted have a better sense of smell than humans, good night vision and a rough society. They aren't necessarily going to need dogs to track for them, but ratters, fighting dogs and guard dogs would all fit.


    Ratters tend to be similar, small stature, short smooth coats, quite a jumpy energetic temperament. Terriers are the iconic breeds of dog for this, but others do exist and look very similar to terriers. Often have their tails docked as puppies to prevent it getting grabbed by prey or snagged on things. Sometimes used as fighting dogs, usually for dog vs rats/mice or dog vs dog.

    Companion dogs are generally bred to be on the smaller side, very gentle in temperament. They can vary hugely in appearance, english bulldogs, yorkshire terriers and chihuahuas all look wildly different from each other.

    Hunting hounds tend to be bred with a thick coat to protect them from traversing rough vegetation and rocks, medium size so they can carry things like ducks and geese, and a reasonably calm temperament so they don't resist having game taken off them. Like ratters often have docked tails so they don't get caught in thorn bushes or similar.

    Herding dogs tend to have thicker coats to protect them from inclement weather, and very intelligent. Rather territorial, usually medium to large sized to better corral livestock and fend off predators.

    Guard dogs are often similar to herding dogs, medium to large build, territorial, loyal, often have a thick coat to protect them in fights.

    Fighting dogs are bred to fight each other, wild animals, bulls and so on for sport. They tend to be hefty and squat, have docked tails, often docked ears, some have thick coats to protect them, some have loose wrinkly skin. They're not necessarily super violent by nature*, but most dogs with a career as a fighting dog will become violent. They're often derived from dogs bred for actual work, some are just hunting dogs bred for bigger game that have been trained to fight.


    Some breeds like rottweilers have been used to pull small carts in addition to their primary role and huskys are primarily bred as beasts of burden, but it's not common.


    *A number of real fighting dog breeds were re-bred to be family dogs after blood sports were made illegal. The industry built around breeding prime fighting dogs, not dissimilar to the one for breeding racehorses, shifted to breeding dogs they could sell as pets.
    Sanity is nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Dwarves using "sled" dogs to pull minecarts could be cool.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Quote Originally Posted by Yanagi View Post
    Why would I be sleeping at 3am when I can be tearing up over Roman epitaphs for their dogs?
    Yeah, that part of the video made me think about my own childhood dog the first time I saw it.

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Halfling riding dogs are already a thing, Belkar's disappointment notwithstanding...
    That would take a long time of selective breeding. Dogs are natural sprinters, not long distance travelers. Though I guess sled dogs are bred for carrying loads long distance.

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    It just occurred to me that cats would be more likely than dogs to innately detect magic.
    Dog: I smell something unnatural, I must warn my beloved master. Bark! Bark! Bark!

    Cat: I sense something unnatural, my human slave is on his own. (finds a hiding place)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    The Oprichinik, bodyguards/inquisitors of Ivan the Terrible, used to believe that dogs could smell witches and traitors and attached severed dog or wolf heads on their saddles.

    Dogs barking at the supernatural is also a classic trope.


    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    Generally speaking a dogs appearance is going to depend on it's job, so dogs that do similar jobs look similar across different cultures. The desired mental properties for a job are likewise similar no matter where you are.

    Halflings in the LotR setting or one inspired by it would probably have dog breeds similar to those of rural England irl. A mix of ratters, companion dogs, herding dogs and hunting hounds, both for retrieving game and flushing it out. Around the borderlands guard dog breeds would be more common as well, to keep watch for strangers and wild animals at night. Ratters and companion dogs tend to be very small, hunting dogs range in size and guard dogs tend towards being largish.

    Dwarves would probably keep ratters and companion dogs, but since they tend to be highly urbanised in most depictions they would probably not keep many hunting dogs or guard dogs. Obviously dwarves who roam, for patrols or hunting would need dogs suited to the task. Likely favoring something akin to real life mountain dog breeds. Herding dogs would likely be in use to protect goats and sheep, which are both good livestock for hills and mountains.

    Orcs as commonly depicted have a better sense of smell than humans, good night vision and a rough society. They aren't necessarily going to need dogs to track for them, but ratters, fighting dogs and guard dogs would all fit.


    Ratters tend to be similar, small stature, short smooth coats, quite a jumpy energetic temperament. Terriers are the iconic breeds of dog for this, but others do exist and look very similar to terriers. Often have their tails docked as puppies to prevent it getting grabbed by prey or snagged on things. Sometimes used as fighting dogs, usually for dog vs rats/mice or dog vs dog.

    Companion dogs are generally bred to be on the smaller side, very gentle in temperament. They can vary hugely in appearance, english bulldogs, yorkshire terriers and chihuahuas all look wildly different from each other.

    Hunting hounds tend to be bred with a thick coat to protect them from traversing rough vegetation and rocks, medium size so they can carry things like ducks and geese, and a reasonably calm temperament so they don't resist having game taken off them. Like ratters often have docked tails so they don't get caught in thorn bushes or similar.

    Herding dogs tend to have thicker coats to protect them from inclement weather, and very intelligent. Rather territorial, usually medium to large sized to better corral livestock and fend off predators.

    Guard dogs are often similar to herding dogs, medium to large build, territorial, loyal, often have a thick coat to protect them in fights.

    Fighting dogs are bred to fight each other, wild animals, bulls and so on for sport. They tend to be hefty and squat, have docked tails, often docked ears, some have thick coats to protect them, some have loose wrinkly skin. They're not necessarily super violent by nature*, but most dogs with a career as a fighting dog will become violent. They're often derived from dogs bred for actual work, some are just hunting dogs bred for bigger game that have been trained to fight.


    Some breeds like rottweilers have been used to pull small carts in addition to their primary role and huskys are primarily bred as beasts of burden, but it's not common.


    *A number of real fighting dog breeds were re-bred to be family dogs after blood sports were made illegal. The industry built around breeding prime fighting dogs, not dissimilar to the one for breeding racehorses, shifted to breeding dogs they could sell as pets.
    All valid points. I was kind of hoping for a rationale for exotic dog breeds with traits we haven't seen in the modern world but your stuff is very well thought out.

    Given that a fantasy world has actual monsters in it, some of which can be trained, it seems unlikely to me that many people would train fighting dogs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Babale View Post
    Dwarves using "sled" dogs to pull minecarts could be cool.
    Indeed. I think that would be very cool indeed.

  7. - Top - End - #7
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    Flumph

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Honestly animal breeds being highly local is one of the ways I use to separate in game cultures. Now some of those cultures will also have a racial bias.
    And not just dogs but cattle, sheeps, swine, etc. Players remember "place with the black pigs and good bacon" and "lord with hairy coos" rather more than I thought they would back when I started doing this. Also if you use real (but often rare) breeds you can have fun visual aids that the players also grasp as being exotic.

    So yeah it can really help "set a place" if you include it and keep it different from other places that the players also had to create in their heads.

    And high or low contrast between areas can give story hints....is a region of a larger nation filled with only native livestock? Is a good supporting detail of them being a subsumed alien culture...or two nation with very similar livestock help make it feel their conflict is a civil war style conflict rather than cultural. Or if you have lots of highly varied little connection between areas livestock map you can play up the isolation and alieness of a neighboring nation (very helpful in say, Ravenloft)

    As an aside.
    And many terriers/ratters have wire coats as well. . . Scotties, boarder terriers, wire coated Jack Russels, badgerdogs, etc etc
    Last edited by sktarq; 2020-11-21 at 04:34 PM.

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Quote Originally Posted by Scalenex View Post
    All valid points. I was kind of hoping for a rationale for exotic dog breeds with traits we haven't seen in the modern world but your stuff is very well thought out.

    Given that a fantasy world has actual monsters in it, some of which can be trained, it seems unlikely to me that many people would train fighting dogs.
    Dogs have the advantage as fighting animals* of being very easy to train and breed. In a fantasy world they would compete with things like worgs, which are sapient and can talk but have no real behavioral differences from wolves except a sadistic streak. Talking worg-derived dogs would be a neat thing, but changes a lot of how people would interact with them.

    For other things, most big trainable monsters would likely be treated like bears in real life. A few in menageries kept by the wealthy, a few maimed ones in travelling circuses, and some kept by people for the equivalent of bear-baiting. Cripple a Manticore's wings and see how many dogs it takes to kill it while a crowd bays for blood kind of affair.


    Giant rats would be a good dog replacement in a lot of settings mind you. Extremely smart, sociable, very fast generations so it's easy to select for specific traits, can climb, great sense of smell, great spacial awareness, is inherently an omnivore unlike wolves. Wouldnt be the best hunters, but they could learn.


    *Which is to say animals used in blood sports.
    Sanity is nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Dogs can be cross-bred or magically altered to have defensive fur or fire breath, or upgrade their senses to truly stupendous levels.

    There were some tribes of Native Americans that use dogs as a source of wool and clothes. They isolated the dogs on islands, and made sure their lines were untainted, then sheared them.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Given how gnomes can communicate with burrowing animals (in some fantasy worlds), what if they then had selective breeding programmes for moles and badgers in a similar way to how humans do for dogs? Guard badgers, tracking moles, etc?

    If elves kept dogs, and hunting dogs +/- guard dogs would seem very appropriate for wild elves / wood elves etc., they might want to breed them to stay alive and healthy longer. A dog's life is like a mayfly's compared to an elf.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Quote Originally Posted by paddyfool View Post
    If elves kept dogs, and hunting dogs +/- guard dogs would seem very appropriate for wild elves / wood elves etc., they might want to breed them to stay alive and healthy longer. A dog's life is like a mayfly's compared to an elf.
    You just made me think of a scenario where the elves tried to do the same to humans..

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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Elven dogs are a thing. Kooshie, or something.

    Some ideas:

    Worg-dogs
    Cross bred for war, these intelligent canines are more obedient than their wild parent and stronger than their domesticated parent. They form squads, usually of litter-mates, of guards and skirmishers within a military unit. Some units are armored and trained to deal with cavalry.

    Show-dogs
    Traveling troups of bards occasionally have dogs trained as performers. The best of these canines can sniff out gold, jewelry, and magic items.
    Show dogs come in a variety of sizes, builds, and coats, and some have magically enhanced intelligence.

    Collar of Invisibility Detection
    Imbued with the cleric spell, the collar allows its wearer to detect magically invisible beings. The collar is specifically attuned to canine minds. While it can be donned by non-canines, it will not allow invisiaility detection. Instead it will cause the wearer to bark at nothing, chase small animals, and try to bite its own tail.

    Collar of Ferocity
    This bejewelled collar will only fit Tiny or Diminutive creatures, and its magic will only affect canines, though it is rumored that there is a feline version prized by wizards and sorcerors for use on their black cat familiars. When worn the collar grants the stat block of a 2HD war dog to a lap-dog. The only stats unaltered are the canine's size category and the AC adjustment associated with it.
    1 in 10 also has a command word which activates a charge-based or use/day Mage Armor spell.
    Last edited by brian 333; 2020-11-22 at 11:58 AM.

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    Dogs have the advantage as fighting animals* of being very easy to train and breed. In a fantasy world they would compete with things like worgs, which are sapient and can talk but have no real behavioral differences from wolves except a sadistic streak. Talking worg-derived dogs would be a neat thing, but changes a lot of how people would interact with them.

    For other things, most big trainable monsters would likely be treated like bears in real life. A few in menageries kept by the wealthy, a few maimed ones in travelling circuses, and some kept by people for the equivalent of bear-baiting. Cripple a Manticore's wings and see how many dogs it takes to kill it while a crowd bays for blood kind of affair.

    Giant rats would be a good dog replacement in a lot of settings mind you. Extremely smart, sociable, very fast generations so it's easy to select for specific traits, can climb, great sense of smell, great spacial awareness, is inherently an omnivore unlike wolves. Wouldnt be the best hunters, but they could learn.


    *Which is to say animals used in blood sports.
    Valid points. Realistically my world would probably have blood sports like this but it's not an avenue I would like to explore and I'm pretty sure my players/readers would not be interested in exploring this. Especially given how blood sports, especially dog blood sports often trigger major emotional responses in the real world.

    I could see giant rats being trained and utilized similar to to dogs in a fantasy world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    Dogs can be cross-bred or magically altered to have defensive fur or fire breath, or upgrade their senses to truly stupendous levels.

    There were some tribes of Native Americans that use dogs as a source of wool and clothes. They isolated the dogs on islands, and made sure their lines were untainted, then sheared them.
    We probably saw the same video on pre-Colombian Native American dog breeds. Some of them were quite cool looking. It's a good video. Not as much as a tear jerker as the Ancient Rome one though.


    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    Dogs have the advantage as fighting animals* of being very easy to train and breed. In a fantasy world they would compete with things like worgs, which are sapient and can talk but have no real behavioral differences from wolves except a sadistic streak. Talking worg-derived dogs would be a neat thing, but changes a lot of how people would interact with them.

    For other things, most big trainable monsters would likely be treated like bears in real life. A few in menageries kept by the wealthy, a few maimed ones in travelling circuses, and some kept by people for the equivalent of bear-baiting. Cripple a Manticore's wings and see how many dogs it takes to kill it while a crowd bays for blood kind of affair.

    Giant rats would be a good dog replacement in a lot of settings mind you. Extremely smart, sociable, very fast generations so it's easy to select for specific traits, can climb, great sense of smell, great spacial awareness, is inherently an omnivore unlike wolves. Wouldnt be the best hunters, but they could learn.


    *Which is to say animals used in blood sports.
    Valid points. Realistically my world would probably have blood sports like this but it's not an avenue I would like to explore and I'm pretty sure my players/readers would not be interested in exploring this. Especially given how blood sports, especially dog blood sports often trigger major emotional responses in the real world.


    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    Dogs can be cross-bred or magically altered to have defensive fur or fire breath, or upgrade their senses to truly stupendous levels.

    There were some tribes of Native Americans that use dogs as a source of wool and clothes. They isolated the dogs on islands, and made sure their lines were untainted, then sheared them.
    We probably saw the same video on pre-Colombian Native American dog breeds. It's a good video. Not as much as a tear jerker as the Ancient Rome one though.

    Quote Originally Posted by paddyfool View Post
    Given how gnomes can communicate with burrowing animals (in some fantasy worlds), what if they then had selective breeding programmes for moles and badgers in a similar way to how humans do for dogs? Guard badgers, tracking moles, etc?

    If elves kept dogs, and hunting dogs +/- guard dogs would seem very appropriate for wild elves / wood elves etc., they might want to breed them to stay alive and healthy longer. A dog's life is like a mayfly's compared to an elf.
    In my world I radically changed the mechanics for gnomes, so they cannot talk to burrowing animals. If that was the case though, I'm sure they would adopt a lot of these creatures as pets.

    My gnomes lose all their mystic abilities but they have hefty social bonus for their proverbial silver tongues the better to talk stronger people out of killing them. I came up with this before I watched Game of Thrones for the first time, realizing that I created an entire race of Tyrion Lannister.

    I don't think the short life span would stop elves from keeping dogs. That wouldn't be that different from humans keeping hamsters as pets. Hamsters don't really live that long.

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Elven dogs are a thing. Kooshie, or something.

    Some ideas:

    Worg-dogs
    Cross bred for war, these intelligent canines are more obedient than their wild parent and stronger than their domesticated parent. They form squads, usually of litter-mates, of guards and skirmishers within a military unit. Some units are armored and trained to deal with cavalry.

    Show-dogs
    Traveling troups of bards occasionally have dogs trained as performers. The best of these canines can sniff out gold, jewelry, and magic items.
    Show dogs come in a variety of sizes, builds, and coats, and some have magically enhanced intelligence.

    Collar of Invisibility Detection
    Imbued with the cleric spell, the collar allows its wearer to detect magically invisible beings. The collar is specifically attuned to canine minds. While it can be donned by non-canines, it will not allow invisiaility detection. Instead it will cause the wearer to bark at nothing, chase small animals, and try to bite its own tail.

    Collar of Ferocity
    This bejewelled collar will only fit Tiny or Diminutive creatures, and its magic will only affect canines, though it is rumored that there is a feline version prized by wizards and sorcerors for use on their black cat familiars. When worn the collar grants the stat block of a 2HD war dog to a lap-dog. The only stats unaltered are the canine's size category and the AC adjustment associated with it.
    1 in 10 also has a command word which activates a charge-based or use/day Mage Armor spell.
    Those are hilarious. I especially like the idea of turning a lapdog into a beast of war. Reminds me of this meme.

    Last edited by Scalenex; 2020-11-22 at 04:57 PM.

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Also if we are speaking of fantasy dogs....

    Pugmire. . . This game can be so wholesome...and punny


    I enjoyed playing it with my ex, some friends, and those friends kids (who were very much bugging us to let them join the very adult Vampire game I ran for a group that included the aforementioned adults. . . This was such a wonderful contrast.

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    I personally just do not see dogs being used as a main household pet like it is in the real world when it comes to a fantasy world. Most of the things that would plague a normal farmer in a fantasy world is not going to be deterred by a dog at all. While the normal animal might actually be intimidated and run from a dog there are a number of creatures that are just so powerful they'll eat the dog eat the farmer and then eat anything else. Will this still happen with a wolf? Probably. Pack mentality might mean you have a small "war party" patrolling the local hamlet. Wolves (and giant rats) are also quieter and are less likely to attract attention while hunting. which isn't to say that dogs wouldn't be used it's just it'd be a far more niche kind of creature.


    Where possible I would actually see halflings and gnomes using wolves over dogs. Due to real witches I also expect the cat population to be on the small side and in cities I would actually expect to have a giant rat population with a number of them being trained as household pets. And a giant rat can fulfill all the same jobs at a normal dog can and is far more able to just eat anything you put in front of it. And the giant rats would probably have a much easier time keeping regular rats away. A number of fantasy creatures, mainly vampires, turn into bats and rats and other little creatures. So those creatures will alsi be hunted as a matter of course.

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Quote Originally Posted by Alcore View Post
    I personally just do not see dogs being used as a main household pet like it is in the real world when it comes to a fantasy world. Most of the things that would plague a normal farmer in a fantasy world is not going to be deterred by a dog at all. While the normal animal might actually be intimidated and run from a dog there are a number of creatures that are just so powerful they'll eat the dog eat the farmer and then eat anything else. Will this still happen with a wolf? Probably. Pack mentality might mean you have a small "war party" patrolling the local hamlet. Wolves (and giant rats) are also quieter and are less likely to attract attention while hunting. which isn't to say that dogs wouldn't be used it's just it'd be a far more niche kind of creature.


    Where possible I would actually see halflings and gnomes using wolves over dogs. Due to real witches I also expect the cat population to be on the small side and in cities I would actually expect to have a giant rat population with a number of them being trained as household pets. And a giant rat can fulfill all the same jobs at a normal dog can and is far more able to just eat anything you put in front of it. And the giant rats would probably have a much easier time keeping regular rats away. A number of fantasy creatures, mainly vampires, turn into bats and rats and other little creatures. So those creatures will alsi be hunted as a matter of course.
    Wolves are just a breed of dog that is less tame so you are basically saying "they would not be using dogs but they would be using a specific subset of the dogs"
    If being quiet was an useful quality in dogs it could probably be bred in those (or be supernaturally obtained through making a dog farm in the plane of shadows to get fast and stealthy shadow dogs)
    If being huge was useful it could be bred in dogs (Look at real life giant dogs: their lifespan is shortened by their size but they are really huge and the dnd equivalent could be dogs with the warbred template)
    If being intelligent was useful(It probably is but if you are making smart strong stealthy dogs at that point you might skip the commoners and instead directly use dogs as your population) it could be added to dogs too(magebred template)

    But yes you are right that giant rats would probably be a good alternative in part due to how easy to breed they are(hence why there is always giant rats to kill for adventurers)
    Last edited by noob; 2020-12-11 at 07:20 AM.

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Quote Originally Posted by noob View Post
    Wolves are just a breed of dog that is less tame so you are basically saying "they would not be using dogs but they would be using a specific subset of the dogs"
    That statement shows how much you are missing on the fundamental differences between the two. Comparing dogs to wolves is like comparing hydras to dragons or Neanderthals to Homosapiens. There is common ancestry but that's about it.

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Wolves have very recent common ancestry to dogs, when compared to Neanderthals.
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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Quote Originally Posted by Alcore View Post
    That statement shows how much you are missing on the fundamental differences between the two. Comparing dogs to wolves is like comparing hydras to dragons or Neanderthals to Homosapiens. There is common ancestry but that's about it.
    They also coexist and can breed together so it is the same specie.
    And there is less distance between dogs and wolves than between hydras and dragons: there is dog variants that are extremely close to wolves.
    Also you are racist if you say Neanderthals are fundamentally different from Homosapiens.
    Last edited by noob; 2020-12-11 at 10:06 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by noob View Post
    They also coexist and can breed together so it is the same specie.
    But still distinct.

    Wolves and dogs are estimated to have began diverging between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago. For comparison, modern humans and Neanderthals are estimated to have began diverging between 315,000 and 800,000 years ago.

    That said, human generations are longer than dog generations - so the number of generations that have gone by since divergence began, may be more comparable.
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2020-12-11 at 10:08 AM.
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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Halfling riding dogs are already a thing, Belkar's disappointment notwithstanding...

    It just occurred to me that cats would be more likely than dogs to innately detect magic.
    The Oprichinik, bodyguards/inquisitors of Ivan the Terrible, used to believe that dogs could smell witches and traitors and attached severed dog or wolf heads on their saddles.

    Dogs barking at the supernatural is also a classic trope.
    Cats detect magic. Dogs detect *evil.* That's why dogs bark at cats.

    In Palladium's Beyond the Supernatural and Nightbane lines, animals' senses and awareness of the supernatural are given as some of the reasons cultures adopt pets.

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    But still distinct.

    Wolves and dogs are estimated to have began diverging between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago. For comparison, modern humans and Neanderthals are estimated to have began diverging between 315,000 and 800,000 years ago.

    That said, human generations are longer than dog generations - so the number of generations that have gone by since divergence began, may be more comparable.
    Humans and Neanderthals are probably a good analogy though. Dogs and wolves are Canis lupus familiaris and Canis lupus lupus. Subspecies of the same species. By that same token, Neanderthals are generally classed as Homo sapien neanderthalensis. Sometimes they're classified as a separate species, but if so, a very closely related one.

    And like dogs and wolves, we interbred with Neanderthals for thousands of years.

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    But still distinct.

    Wolves and dogs are estimated to have began diverging between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago. For comparison, modern humans and Neanderthals are estimated to have began diverging between 315,000 and 800,000 years ago.

    That said, human generations are longer than dog generations - so the number of generations that have gone by since divergence began, may be more comparable.
    I don't think they are though. Many societies free range their dogs, who breed with the local "wild dogs." The majority of wolves are in that lineage.

    Scientifically we then say all wolves that breed with dogs are dogs, and wolves that are particularly shy are "real wolves." The species aren't distinct, but our view of them is. Like how Canadian "wolves" mated with coyotes and dogs to make "coy wolves" that are somehow not pure because they lost their shyness. Wolves are a scientific "no true scotsman" fallacy.
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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    The gene flow is mostly one way - lots of wolves have a trace of dog DNA - but genes from the wolf gene pool don't tend to enter the domestic dog gene pool.

    Because wolfdogs are more unpredictable than regular dogs, people don't tend to breed from them. Except on the rare occasions when wolfdog breeds are actively created.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfdog


    Whole genome sequencing has been used to study gene flow between wild and domestic species. There is evidence of widespread gene-flow from dogs into wolf populations, and very few deliberate crossings of wolves with dogs, such as the Saarloos Wolfdog. However, the global dog population forms a genetic cluster with little evidence for gene flow from wolves into dogs. Ancient DNA shows that dogs from Europe over 5,000 years ago also show little evidence of interbreeding with wild canids.[8]


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog

    Differences from wolves

    Despite their close genetic relationship and interbreedability, there are several diagnostic features to distinguish the gray wolves from domestic dogs. Domesticated dogs are distinguishable from wolves by starch gel electrophoresis of red blood cell acid phosphatase.[42] The tympanic bullae are large, convex, and almost spherical in gray wolves, while the bullae of dogs are smaller, compressed, and slightly crumpled.[43] Compared with equally sized wolves, dogs tend to have 20% smaller skulls and 30% smaller brains.[44]:35 The teeth of gray wolves are also proportionately larger than those of dogs.[45] Dogs have a more domed forehead and a distinctive "stop" between the forehead and nose.[46] The temporalis muscle that closes the jaws is more robust in wolves.[5]:158 Wolves do not have dewclaws on their back legs unless there has been admixture with dogs that had them.[47] Most dogs lack a functioning pre-caudal gland and enter estrus twice yearly, unlike gray wolves, which only do so once a year.[48] So-called primitive dogs such as dingoes and Basenjis retain the yearly estrus cycle.[49]

    Dogs generally have brown eyes, and wolves almost always have amber or light-colored eyes.[50] Domestic dogs' skin tends to be thicker than that of wolves, with some Inuit tribes favoring the former for use as clothing due to its greater resistance to wear and tear in harsh weather.[51] The paws of a dog are half the size of a wolf, and their tails tend to curl upwards, another trait not found in wolves.[52]
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2020-12-11 at 06:53 PM.
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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Quote Originally Posted by Alcore View Post
    I personally just do not see dogs being used as a main household pet like it is in the real world when it comes to a fantasy world. Most of the things that would plague a normal farmer in a fantasy world is not going to be deterred by a dog at all. While the normal animal might actually be intimidated and run from a dog there are a number of creatures that are just so powerful they'll eat the dog eat the farmer and then eat anything else. Will this still happen with a wolf? Probably. Pack mentality might mean you have a small "war party" patrolling the local hamlet. Wolves (and giant rats) are also quieter and are less likely to attract attention while hunting. which isn't to say that dogs wouldn't be used it's just it'd be a far more niche kind of creature.


    Where possible I would actually see halflings and gnomes using wolves over dogs. Due to real witches I also expect the cat population to be on the small side and in cities I would actually expect to have a giant rat population with a number of them being trained as household pets. And a giant rat can fulfill all the same jobs at a normal dog can and is far more able to just eat anything you put in front of it. And the giant rats would probably have a much easier time keeping regular rats away. A number of fantasy creatures, mainly vampires, turn into bats and rats and other little creatures. So those creatures will alsi be hunted as a matter of course.
    I disagree, I think they would still be used. You don't need a dog that can fight off the neighbourhood monster (unless with magic added) because even then, if something can kill a human it's something that can easily kill a dog (great bear, lions). You don't always need a dog for direct combat.

    A dog has better senses than a human. Capable of smelling things far better, is an extra set of eyes and ears, and with magic, can be granted supernatural abilities. They're also pretty smart. Yes, maybe there's a monster that can probably kill the dog lurking in the darkness; but the dog smelt the monster and began barking, meaning that the monster has lost the element of surprise, giving you that small piece of advantage. That also helps you in things like tracking down monsters, food, or just finding that one sock that always goes missing.

    There's other things too. Maybe they can't kill the monster, but maybe they can attack the flanks, throw in distractions, and all in all its tougher to fight a man and a dog than just a man. Maybe they can't talk, but a suitably smart dog can help you herd sheep and cattle, and fight off the less dangerous monsters.

    And last but not least, at least they're warm, furry friends with a lot of friendliness.

    Mind you, I'm not familiar with D&D's system, more familiar with Exalted.

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Domesticated giant rats would probably reduce the use of dogs, but rats need to chew constantly so I don't think they'd reduce dog use by very much. Although as far as I'm aware modern trained rats are only used when dogs' weight is a safety issue, so omnivory might not even get anyone to choose them over dogs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    finding that one sock that always goes missing.
    If its one particular sock that always goes missing, I suspect the dog is the problem and not the solution.

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    Domesticated giant rats would probably reduce the use of dogs, but rats need to chew constantly so I don't think they'd reduce dog use by very much. Although as far as I'm aware modern trained rats are only used when dogs' weight is a safety issue, so omnivory might not even get anyone to choose them over dogs.

    If its one particular sock that always goes missing, I suspect the dog is the problem and not the solution.
    In dnd you have extra cool giant rats.
    You would expect rats to function less efficiently when bigger but in dnd it is not the case for those giant rats for some mysterious reason.(they proliferate just fine somehow)
    Giant rats would probably be faster to select for specific qualities than dogs.
    Last edited by noob; 2020-12-12 at 03:32 PM.

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    Domesticated giant rats would probably reduce the use of dogs, but rats need to chew constantly so I don't think they'd reduce dog use by very much. Although as far as I'm aware modern trained rats are only used when dogs' weight is a safety issue, so omnivory might not even get anyone to choose them over dogs.

    If its one particular sock that always goes missing, I suspect the dog is the problem and not the solution.
    Can rats be domesticated?

    Or more accurately, do rats have the same pack hunting and friendship instincts dogs have that make them such good partners with humans? I know rats can make good pets, but what about good partners?

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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    Can rats be domesticated?

    Or more accurately, do rats have the same pack hunting and friendship instincts dogs have that make them such good partners with humans? I know rats can make good pets, but what about good partners?
    They can be trained as sniffer animals, learn various tricks and have an intense need for social contact.

    They don't have much of a hunting instinct, being opportunistic hunters rather than dedicated ones, but colonies do have and defend territory, and some of the larger tropical species get pretty aggressive. Giant rats would probably be more predatorily inclined, real rats mostly hunt insects or vertebrates smaller than themselves opportunisticaly, giant ones would have a wider range of potential prey items.

    If selectively bred for the desired traits giant rats could probably do a lot of the same jobs as dogs, though I don't think they'd match dogs for speed because of their leg design. Being able to climb would be handy for some jobs though.


    A big advantage in theory would be that they're omnivorous while wolves aren't, which would make them easier to domesticate for primitive cultures that don't have lots of meat to spare. Once you have something recognisable as a modern dog that advantage goes away, because dogs have been bred to be omnivorous to an extent, but before that it's quite a difference in resource input.
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    Default Re: Dogs in medieval fantasy worlds

    Dog Whistles

    Silver Whistle: summons a War Dog with barding to faithfully serve its master for 10 turns.

    Wooden Whistle: summons a wolf.

    Iron Whistle: summons a Hell Hound.

    Whistles are either charged or single use items. Although all three summon Lawful creatures, how the creature obeys may be affected by differences along the G-E axis between summoned and summoner.

    Guard Dog:

    This statue depicts a large canine patiently waiting. When an event triggers it, usually when a protected space is entered, the statue animates and either barks or attacks. The statue is a 2hd war dog with a stoneskin effect.

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